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And Used Hits:The Best of ApologetiX Vol. 1 & 2
The day after I last saw ApologetiX, wherein the band performed some of the new numbers included on New And Used Hits, I told a friend at church about the concert. After prefacing my comments with an explanation of ApologetiX's biblically Yankovian schtick, I mentioned that they had tweaked Fountains of Wayne's "Stacy's Mom," but I forgot the title. Not missing a beat, he guessed, "J.C.'s Mom?" Yes, "J.C.'s Mom." He wasn't impressed. It would be argued from that episode that the ApologetiX live experience is what turns skeptics into fans, but not necessarily.
Another friend, formerly a member of multiple bar bands, attended the aforemetioned gig with me. He saw them once before at an outdoor festival and was of such wildly mixed opinion that he wanted to check out an indoor show to gauge whether his first impression was valid. Exiting the venue with an opinion of ApologetiX a bit higher than the first time, he thought himself not to been very far off the first time.
Friend number one's trouble with ApologetiX was the high dairy (say "Cheese!") content . Friend number two couldn't understand how an act with such middling musicianship could command such a wide, loyal following.
ApologetiX can be defended against such complaints, though. Their spoofs do not always mimic the original versions as well as Weird Al or turn songs upon themselves like Stan Freberg and Alan Sherman did in the '50s and '60s; ApologetiX's musician skill and production values have, however, grown more assured and professional with time, especially in the studio. This improvement in is what makes the looseness on their scripturizations of works by Jet ("Are You Going To Be Ike's Girl?") and Brooks & Dunn ("Good News Bookie") easier to take.
What neither of my buddies grasped, that only recently dawned on me, is ApologetiX's dual function. Vocalist/lyricist J. Jackson's Word-crammed mind composes lyrics that follow Martin Luther's dictum of transforming popular music into something God-honoring and useful. Jackson's ratio of genius to cheese is higher than detractors may want to admit. He can sometimes make it a 50-50 spread, as when he rids Michael Jackson and Alien Ant Farm of a criminal and sings of a "Smooth Grandmama."
Their other role is as a Christianized bar band. ApoklogetiX shows work as the kind of event a believer who doesn't want to set foot into an adults-only watering hole, but still wants to hear familiar songs, feels comfortable seeing. The doesn't have to necessarily be funny, either. Their take on The Calling's biggest hit, "Whererever You Will Sow," for example, isn't meant to get laughs.
The band's recorded record is not as strong as the life shows. The CD catalog may be an afterthought or, at best, a stream of mementos of the fun had at their performances. _New And Used_ collects 40 ApologetiX songs-some fresh from Jackson's pen, others re-recorded or done live-over the course of two CDs. That equals approximately two of their usual albums costing not much more than one.
Seasoned followers will have their nits to pick. Among mine:not including the song that I thought could have gotten them back into Dr. Demento's good graces, "All The Stalls Stink" (guess the Blink-182 song they swiped), the continued calling of the band who originally penned "Pepper," The Buttonhole Surfers (If a band's name offends you, maybe it is best not remake their music at all.), the assertion that Chinese Christians aren't doing squat in, "One Way," their reconfiguration of a number by the apparently unoffensively named Barenaked Ladies (maybe I'm mishearing that part about squat?).
Doubtless there are those faithful debating New And Used's song choices and live version. For the uninitiated, this is a probably overwhelming, if reasonably-priced, introduction to a Christian market music institution-in-the-making as divisive as they are fun. Another slice of cheddar, anyone?
Jamie Lee Rake 1/9/2005
Apologetix pops outta church with more of their brand of kid-tested, youth minister approved Sunday school rock parodies. This is a two CD compilation of 22 remastered Apologetix favorites, along with four unreleased Christmas songs, seven new songs, and seven live cuts. Fans of the band will enjoy this new CD immensely, and not having checked Apologetix since my Christian rock radio days I can tell you that their sound and production values have improved. The songs sound beefier and rockier than the early CDs that I was familiar with. The remastering helped some of the older songs sound better as well.
When I worked Christian radio, the Apologetix were requested often. I received multiple calls every show to play their stuff, and the kids dug ‘em big time. Their bible-themed songs help kids to grasp Bible stories, while serving as sort of a “guilty pleasure” ‘cause you get to listen to evil secular rock while learning about the Lord.
Some of the new songs on the project are kinda fun, I liked “The Voice of Sodom” to the tune of “The Boys of Summer,” and “Are You Gonna’ Be Ike’s Girl” is an amusing version of Jet’s “Are You Gonna’ Be My Girl.” I can tell you after hearing the Apologetix version of Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady” that the band needs to RUN, not walk away from doing further rap parodies, and their version of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” sounds sorta’ weak production-wise. I do wish that the Apologetix would consider doing some satire ala’ Steve Taylor and would comment on current events or topics other than just Bible themes. Or perhaps an original song every now and then would help broaden the scope of the band’s CDs. As it stands, the Apologetix are good at what they do—taking a one-hour Sunday school class and stuff it into a three minute top 40 rock/pop/or rap song.
DJ Barry 1/27/2005